The board of School District 73 is considering moving Grade 7 students in Clearwater, Chase and Barriere to their respective high schools, according to Shelley Sim, the school trustee for the Clearwater-Blue River area.
“The motion was voted unanimously and it is likely that the public consultation will start in January,” she reported. “I have asked for two sessions to be held in Clearwater – one during the day and one in the evening.”
Sim said that she also hopes that the board office will develop a means to receive questions from community members in advance of the consultation sessions.
Some question might include: What could this look like? What happens to sports? How would the transition take place? What would this mean for staffing at both schools? Would having extra space at Raft River Elementary be beneficial? Would it be good to utilize the empty spaces at Clearwater Secondary School?
The North Thompson trustee noted that parents of students who attend middle school in Kamloops speak favorably of their Grade 7 children benefiting from having math teachers who teach math and science teachers that teach science.
“Are our children ready for a different delivery system or is it best to keep them at the elementary school until grade 8?” she asked. “This is a question that will hopefully have broad base participation.”
Sims said she understands that some families in Barriere and Chase are enthusiastic about the proposal, although she does not know if they are in the majority.
She noted that Alan Stel, formerly the principal at CSS, had suggested the change while he was here.
Parents appeared to be open to the idea at the time but there was no formal consultation process to carry it forward, she said.
The proposal to move the Grade 7 students in the three rural communities to their respective high schools was contained in a facilities report given by staff to the school board on Monday evening, Dec. 11.
The report discussed how enrollment growth and changes to class size and composition are impacting schools and classroom space in the school district.
Trustees heard that, in most schools, space is very limited.
The report recommends adding more portables or repurposing classrooms at schools with growth pressure as an interim measure, instead of reopening previously closed schools.
Dates for consultation sessions in Clearwater, Barriere and Chase are to be set as soon as possible.